Thank you so much, Madam Chair.
Hello everyone, bonjour, aaniin, as-salaam alaikum.
Congratulations on being appointed to this very important committee in these very important times.
I'd like to begin by acknowledging that we are on unceded Algonquin territory.
I will spend the time you've provided me, Madam Chair, talking a little bit about what my mandate is and talking a bit about supplementary estimates (B) and how they help advance gender equality in Canada. Hopefully, we'll have an opportunity for some discussion.
This committee in the past has helped inform significant policies and programs that have come out of my department. This committee's work on violence against women and girls informed Canada's first federal strategy to address and prevent gender-based violence. I know that folks around this table, like so many parents and youth across the country, are concerned about online violence, and the work that this committee did in its previous iteration to address revenge porn on social media sites provides a really good benchmark for what can happen in terms of significant change when we work together across party lines.
I look forward to continuing the work and the partnership.
When the Prime Minister appointed me as the Minister for Women and Gender Equality last fall, he entrusted me with the mission of driving systemic change that promotes a fairer and more inclusive society for women and for LGBTQ2 and gender-diverse peoples—when I say women, I mean the broad intersections of women—by improving the quality of their life, by working to ensure that this country is safer and by working to ensure that more of us end up around decision-making tables such as this one.
To advance systemic change, one of the tools that the Government of Canada has at its disposal—and Canada introduced the tool at Beijing in 1995—is gender-based analysis. We apply an intersectional gendered lens to the implementation, design and evaluation of our programs and services. Doing this provides a better understanding of the intersections of sex and gender but also of the ways in which various other identity factors—rurality, indigeneity, disabilities, age, whether you are a francophone living in an anglophone majority community or vice versa, your immigration status, and who and how you love— affect the way that society treats you, as well as the barriers and the opportunities that are in the way. That's what GBA+ allows us to do.
We have, over the past five years, been able to bring forward significant change. I'm going to talk a little bit about that change, recognizing too though that we have much more to do. For every step we've taken forward and those who have come before us have taken forward, there has been backlash. That backlash is alive and well here in Canada but also around the world, and it impacts our ability to progress and to achieve equality for all.
Right now, I can tell you that over the past five years, Canada has moved up 11 places in the World Economic Forum's gender equality index. That's significant. There are plans, programs, and laws in place now that didn't exist before. For example—and I know colleagues debated Bill C-16—there's protection for trans individuals and non-binary gender individuals in law now. We have a national housing strategy with a carve-out set aside specifically for women and girls, especially those fleeing violence and abuse. There is a gender violence plan to address and prevent this. We have a comprehensive national action plan to address and prevent human trafficking and we have a poverty reduction plan.
The small but mighty agency that was Status of Women Canada, thanks to the advocacy of so many across the country, is now a full and equal department under the law, with the same authorities, responsibilities and powers as other departments. It is now the law of the land for a federal budget to have an intersectional gendered lens applied to it.
These are some of the ways that we have made significant progress. We have built on the foundation that those before us have built, and we need to build upon it further.
This is an important year. We've discussed it. It's considered a super year for gender equality. It marks 75 years since the United Nations was established. It marks 50 years since the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada began its historic and significant work. It marks 25 years since the platform for action was agreed upon by the international community, the most comprehensive blueprint for gender equality. It's been 25 years since gender-based analysis started to be applied here within the federal Government of Canada. We have five years to look back on sustainable development goals, and a recognition, too, that we have five years to go until the next review of the sustainable development goals happen, and 10 years until the sustainable development that the international community agreed to are due.
This is an important year. The way to move forward, I remain convinced, is through partnership and by empowering grassroots and local leadership in communities across the country. One of the ways that we've done that is by enhancing our investments in women's organizations and equality-seeking organizations. Some 630 organizations have received over $250 million over the past five years from only my department. That doesn't include other government departments. This allows them to build capacity to sustain their efforts, to address and prevent gender-based violence, to enhance women's economic security and work to get more women and diverse individuals in positions of power, like the ones around this table.
The year 2020 is also significant because the calls for justice, the response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, are due. This is one of those initiatives that didn't exist in the past five years. There was no national inquiry. Now we find ourselves as a country working hard to operationalize reconciliation. Recognizing that whether the work is to advance indigenous women and girls' rights and well-being or other women and diverse populations, the work will be difficult. It will require courageous conversations. It will depend on smart partnerships. I'm really grateful that our constituents have given us the power and the opportunity to be here in Ottawa at this critical moment in time to move our communities and our countries forward.
I'll wrap up there, Madam Chair. I know you'll be asking me about supplementary estimates and I'm happy to talk about those adjustments.